Muscat: Tourists visiting Oman often return with fond memories of impressive roundabouts with themes in the capital Muscat.
These picturesque roundabouts will soon be removed as Muscat Municipality replaces them with traffic light junctions.
"One of the main reasons for replacing landmark roundabouts with junctions and traffic lights is to avoid traffic jams at main intersections," Khalil Al Balushi, Deputy Director of Information at the Muscat Municipality, told Gulf News yesterday.
The first to go was the majestic 'Book Roundabout', which leads to Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Al Khodh at the outskirts of Muscat.
"The giant book has been shifted close to the SQU," Al Balushi pointed out. The 'Book Roundabout' was one of the first junctions seen when driving into Muscat from Dubai or north of the country.
Then there was a fort built in the middle of a six-road roundabout. That has also been replaced with six-lane crossroads with traffic lights.
"The traffic flow has improved a lot removing all the bottlenecks at the earlier roundabout entries," said Al Balushi.
Seeb International Airport roundabout will make way for an interchange and traffic lights in December as the work has been slightly delayed due to tropical Cyclone Gonu. The junction is part of the ambitious 132-million riyals Southern Expressway project.
The 2.5 million Omani riyals project is currently underway at the Al Khuwair roundabout, which connects the ministry enclave with the residential and diplomatic area.
"Work to convert Al Khuwair roundabout into a 4-way junction is nearing completion and the project is expected to be ready by next month," revealed Al Balushi.
He added that currently, preliminary layers are being laid out in preparation for paving and electricity network connections for the installation of traffic lights at the junction.
"This area has several underground cables and it needs extra care to complete," he said. He added that the small roundabout near the State Council will also be converted into a 4-way junction.
Al Balushi said that the municipality has floated tender to convert Darseit roundabout and another roundabout near Sports Ministry into 4-way junctions with traffic lights.
"Once the tenders are approved we would know the cost," he said. According to him the new plans also include taking a road directly from Qurum-Darseit highway through Darseit area to the Church and Temple area.
"This would help motorists avoid taking the Darseit roundabout," he said.
In reply to a question, he said that the municipality plans to remove all roundabouts in the capital and replace them with traffic junctions.
"It has been proven that traffic flow is much better at traffic lights rather than roundabouts," he stressed.